Nordstrom Delights Consumers With Technology

Why integrated technologies are essential for brands to create class-leading customer experiences.

Ecommerce

Nordstrom is a brand that must be doing something right. With the company's share price gaining 120 percent in five years, the brand's profits have outperformed competing retailers, and the company has built a strong and engaged customer community that will no doubt ensure continued success. So how is the retailer using integrated technologies to provide an exceptional customer experience and win over consumers at crucial moments?

SMACIT (a.k.a. social, mobile, analytics, cloud, and Internet of Things) technology and application has been marked as a transformative set of technologies for brand marketing strategies. A recent HBR article discussing the strength of Nordstrom’s digital strategy explained how the brand’s ability to align customer experience goals to SMACIT capabilities has been a key driver for the brand’s incredible success.

The article discussed how Nordstrom have leveraged technological capabilities as a means of optimizing user experiences. Defined by the term ‘SMACIT‘, it has seen the introduction of everything from social apps to build awareness, to purchase point and personalized innovations.

“Between 2004 and 2014, Nordstrom made an extraordinary series of investments, each aimed squarely at that same purpose of providing a fabulous customer experience. First came a new point-of-sale system that included personal book software so that salespeople could track individual customer requests and needs online. This was followed in quick succession by the launch of an innovation lab, the creation of Nordstrom apps, the introduction of popular social apps that created buzz as well as mobile checkout, support for salespeople texting, and ultimately the acquisition of a cloud-based men’s personalized clothing service.”

Why Has Nordstrom Invested Heavily In Technology?

Here are four reasons Nordstrom has invested in technology, and is creating class-leading customer experiences.

1. To Provide Great Customer Service

Great customer service is a value deeply instilled into the culture at Nordstrom; employees and staff have built a reputation for being friendly and capable, and consumers know they will be treated fairly when they shop there because of the company’s “no questions asked” return policy.

The great customer service has been backed by technological innovations. For example, the company recently introduced mobile point of sale capabilities that enable customers to check out anywhere in store, negating the need to queue up and wait to pay (and reducing the chance of potential transaction abandonments or second thoughts about a purchase). The implementation was so effective that Nordstrom’s saw a 15 percent increase in Q1 2012 (compared to 2011 equivalent figures) in the weeks immediately following the introduction of the technology.

Other examples of customer experiences enhanced by technology includes the keeping of a ‘Personal Book’ for all Nordstrom customers. The technology keeps track of personal information as well as every transaction a customer has made from a retailer, enabling marketing teams to do everything from sending a birthday message to making the best recommendations for a customer in email marketing campaigns.

2. To Appeal To Key Audiences

Nordstrom has managed to do something that many other retailers struggle with: appealing to millennials. The brand has managed to build a reputation, not only as a modern and forward thinking company adept in the practice of using digital media (as of this writing, the company has more than 540,000 followers on Twitter and sent over 153,000 tweets), but also as a brand of genuine authenticity.

Nordstrom uses Twitter to engage with consumers naturally, as well as create awareness about products and promotions.

Nordstrom is also one of the few brands that has braved the challenge of participating in a dedicated brand forum on reddit, with a number of staff members conducting AMA (Ask-me-anything) interviews, and engaging with redditors in a natural, authentic way.

3. To Streamline User Experiences

When it comes to digital media, Nordstrom is way ahead of the game. While other brands might typically be in conversations about which tactics are best for which channel, Nordstrom is simply using the platforms to tie together different moments of user intent into one seamless user experience.

Consumers can, for example, purchase items directly on Instagram:

The highly visual nature of Nordstrom’s products means shopping on the platform, where users are also able to comment and discuss images with other users, provides consumers with an innovative and enjoyable method to shop, without the complication of having to use multiple devices or software to make a purchase.

“This is the first experience of its kind, and it’s the closest thing out there—that I’m aware of—in terms of delivering a seamless shopping experience,” according to Bryan Galipeau, director of social media at Nordstrom.

Nordstrom also makes exceptional use of Pinterest. For a couple of years now, Nordstrom has used Pinterest to gauge consumer opinions and measure the popularity of their products. These digital insights help inform in-store product strategy, and demonstrates how much the brand values what its customers have to say.

“Pinterest is in many ways the world’s biggest wish list – and so it also fits well with our goal of having our merchandise show up in our customer’s wish lists…” Galipeau said. “The customer is voting with their pins to tell us what they think is hot – and we’re listening closely.”

4. To Tie Together Difference Channels And Disciplines

Technology is one thing, but a brand can really improve user experiences with the integration of technology platforms and services. Nordstrom has taken an ongoing, committed approach to deliver omnichannel digital experiences.

  • Nordstrom’s social media channels are connected to the brand’s website and physical stores.
  • Nordstrom’s app is also integrated with both Nordstrom.com, and the retailer’s inventory management system, which enables users to check stock levels for the items they are interested in and, should they want to, get them delivered to their closest store.
  • Personal Book is used to inform email strategy, and email is again tied to data from website browsing and social media to form a complete picture.
  • Nordstrom have also launched new ecommerce platforms to cater to specific user needs, such as men’s brands Bonobos and Trunk Club, and the retailer’s dedicated flash sale site, Hautelook.

Connecting Channels And Technology To Achieve Exceptional Results

It’s the fourth of these points that has made the most difference to Nordstrom’s success. While many brands are heavily invested in new technologies, active on all the right channels, and committed to using digital media as a way to engage with consumers, few manage to connect technologies, platforms, and channels to the same extent as Nordstrom.

Even fewer brands have managed to use the many digital and retail technologies in a way that prioritizes connectedness and integrations between those technologies; and also as a way to empower staff and marketers to deliver on class-leading consumer experiences that distinguishes the brand in the minds of consumers. According to the HBR article:

“[Nordstrom] have not only introduced new channels, but they have integrated them in ways that empower employees and customers. Nordstrom hasn’t used SMACIT to develop a digital business model — they have further digitized their business model, and pursued their purpose, using SMACIT.”

The ability to connect technology and excellent customer experiences into a unified whole that pushes in the same direction makes for an unrivaled value proposition, and ultimately, stellar financial performance. The HBR article also had a warning for brands that “struggle to achieve this kind of integration.” They will, the article states “end up with a bunch of clever but isolated SMACIT applications, attempting to compete with companies who own an innovation engine that constantly raises the bar for delighting customers.”

For many brands that will paint a familiar picture. These brands must figure out how to follow the example that Nordstrom has set.

What do you think about how Nordstrom use technology to deliver great customer experiences? Leave a comment or Tweet us @momentologyNews.

Welcome to Momentology

Momentology is the leading digital marketing strategy and news resource for senior marketers who believe in a strong customer-centric focus and want to learn how to be visible and persuasive in the moments that really matter.